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Spring Tech Preview: Cars and car tech

CES, SEMA, and the international car show season gave us plenty of anticipation for new models and electronics.

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Wayne Cunningham, Antuan Goodwin
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1 of 5 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Subaru BRZ

The Subaru BRZ is the first of a pair of upcoming sports coupes to be born out of Toyota and Subaru's collaboration on the FT-86 II concept. With a sport-tuned, rear-wheel-driven chassis penned by Toyota and a 2.0-liter boxer engine developed by Subaru, the BRZ is simultaneously the first RWD Subaru in decades, possibly the first fun Toyota in about as long, and, hopefully, a return to form for fans of lightweight, fun-to-drive Japanese sports cars.

The 2013 Subaru BRZ will be available sometime in spring 2012 for about $25,000. Expect its Scion-badged Toyota twin, the FR-S, to hit dealerships shortly after at a similar price.

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2 of 5 Timothy Hornyak/CNET

Toyota Prius C

Toyota began adding different-sized cars to the Prius family last year, and the C is the second new model after the V. The C is designed as a small hatchback, well sized for the urban environment. Its hybrid drive system has a smaller engine than the Prius Liftback, so it gets slightly better fuel economy, turning in 53 mpg.

The Toyota Prius C has already arrived at dealerships, and has a base price of $18,950, making it the most affordable Prius yet.

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3 of 5 Mini

Mini Cooper Roadster

The new Roadster can only enhance Mini's reputation for fun. This two-seater has a convertible top, and should exhibit the same kind of handling that invited go-kart comparisons to the standard Mini Cooper.

The new open top Mini goes on sale this spring, with a base price of $24,350. More enticing is the S model, with the same turbocharged engine as the Mini Cooper S, which goes for $27,350. There will also be a high performance John Cooper Works version.

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4 of 5 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Fiat 500 Abarth

When we reviewed the Fiat 500 last year, we liked the styling but were not impressed with the performance. The 500 Abarth changes all that. With an extra 59 horsepower, a sport-tuned suspension, and a rowdy exhaust note, this car begs to be driven fast.

The Fiat 500 Abarth hits dealerships this spring, at a starting price of $22,000.

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5 of 5 Pioneer

Pioneer AppRadio 2

Android users usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to in-car infotainment. "Just stick with Bluetooth or an auxiliary connection," they're told. Pioneer aims to change that with the launch of its AppRadio 2. Hoping to recreate the buzz generated by the first generation AppRadio's integration with a selection of iPhone apps, AppRadio 2 allows certain Android apps to take advantage of its massive 7-inch touch screen.

The AppRadio 2 will retail for $499 when it hits the market in April. Additionally, the original AppRadio will continue to be sold alongside the new unit with updated software for 2012, but without the new Android phone support, for the same $399 MSRP.

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